After finishing our last selection for Cook the Books, "Like Water for Chocolate", I was eager to start on "eating for England" by Nigel Slater. Personally, I find it hard to get excited about food from the United Kingdom, but I am always open to trying new things and reading Slater's work was much like picking up an encyclopedia on food. While not incredibly entertaining, the book was quite educational. I learned a great deal about the cuisine of Great Britain, along with its people's favorite (and least favorite) indigenous prepared foods. It would be a great culinary reference guide for any true anglophile.
One thing the book did for me was make me want to try things I'd never tried before, although definitely not blood sausage.....
This may sound a little trite, but I decided to make soft boiled eggs. I do love eggs. I especially love runny yolked eggs. But, in my entire life, I have never had a soft boiled egg. For the beginner, its quite tricky getting the timing right for producing an egg whose white is cooked through, but leaves a liquid yolk. On the third try (I won't count the one I dropped into the water and cracked on contact) I had it just right. Technically, I had it perfect on the first try, but I wasn't expecting it and I cracked the egg right down the middle to test for doneness. Imagine my disappointment when I realized I could have used that one right off the bat!
I toasted my bread and sliced it into little "soldiers" just perfect for dipping. What a wonderful little comforting treat. I had the perfect little spoon that fit inside the egg perfectly for scooping out the whites after I had decimated the yolk.
After making the egg, I decided that I couldn't be satisfied with merely boiling an egg, so I decided to make a small tribute to Harry Potter and made his favorite treat, Treacle Tart. (Of course, I had leftover Golden Syrup from the flapjacks I made recently, so I admit I had an ulterior motive.)
I managed to find a recipe that had measurement conversions on it, and only makes three small tarts, so I got to work! After finishing, I nearly inhaled one whole tart and had a hard time saving the other for my Brit-loving friend Melyssa to try. I think she was equally impressed. It tasted like a combination of pecan pie (without the pecans) and the very top crunchy bits on a creme brulee. I can see why Harry is so fond of it.
Caramel Treacle Tart
recipe adapted from Caramel by Trish Deseine
for 3 small 11x5 cm forms (I had two 11cm x 11cm forms, and used those instead of three of the smaller ones and it worked perfectly)
For the pastry: (I admit to cheating and using refrigerated pie crust)
Chilled butter, cut into cubes - 1/6 cups (37 ml)
All-purpose flour - 1/2 cup+1/8 cup (150 ml)
Soft brown sugar - 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
Chilled water - 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
Chilled vodka - 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
For the filling:
Golden Syrup (or Maple Syrup or Corn Syrup) - 1/3 cup (75 ml)
Butter - 3/4 tablespoon (10 ml)
Whipping cream - 1/6 cup (37 ml)
Egg, lightly beaten - 1
To make the pastry, mix the butter, flour, and sugar together in a food processor, or in a mixing bowl, using your fingertips to combine, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Make a hollow in the center and pour in water and vodka (if not enough, add a little bit more vodka) to make a dough.
Shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.- Roll out the pastry and use it to line the forms. Chill in the refrigerator for another 40-60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
Gently heat the Golden Syrup in a small saucepan.
Add the butter and stir until the mixture is smooth.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and gently stir in the cream and the beaten egg. Be careful not to scramble the egg, if, however, egg white cooks a little, then pour the mixture through a fine sieve to get rid off the egg white lumps.
Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling has set.
Allow the tart to cool for a few minutes before serving with whipped cream.